Another trans bill—this one concerning inmates—looks to a final vote in the Senate

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The Indiana Senate Tuesday advanced a bill to restrict gender reassignment surgery for inmates in Indiana prisons to a third reading and a final vote.

House Bill 1569 was authored by Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, and passed through the Indiana House Courts and Criminal Code Committee and the full House as well as a Senate committee. It is among multiple bills targeting trans rights making their way through the General Assembly this session.

The bill would restrict the Department of Corrections from using any state resources to pay for hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for inmates.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the bill providing that if an inmate paid for the surgery out of their own pocket, then the DOC would provide support and facilitate the procedure.

Taylor said this would be like “any other medically necessary procedure” for which the DOC must take the patient off premises to provide the service. 

Sponsors of the bill—Sen. Stacey Donato, R-Logansport, and Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis—opposed the amendment.

Young asked whether this could create discipline or security problems and whether the inmate might have to move. 

“If we have to move those people from male prisons into female prisons and vice versa, I just think that would be a problem,” Young said.

Taylor told his colleagues to “look up the definition before you ask that question.”

“Educate yourself before you ask the question. Gender reassignment could be about taking a hormone. As simple as that. So before you come up here and ask questions, educate yourself,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the State of Indiana has an obligation to all DOC inmates to “provide medically necessary surgeries.” 

“My public policy position is that when someone needs a medically necessary procedure, even if they’re incarcerated, they have a human right to receive it,” Taylor said. 

“All I’m trying to do is carve out and say that if you have private pay insurance and you want to pay for it yourself, the DOC should provide and facilitate this medically necessary procedure.”

The bill is eligible for a final vote in the Senate later this week.